Keeping your business afloat is never easy. Every decision you make has a knock-on effect and can be the making of you or the destruction of your business. Making that all-important sale is top of your priorities at any given point in the day.Without the sales, you will crumble. There are lots of opportunities to make a sale, but only effective marketing will marry your product or service with the right customer.
Getting a customer to say yes to you is the next part of the challenge. There are so many points in the sales process where the customer may say no and walk away from your deal. This is after you have spent the money, time and trouble to get them to the checkout point. Customers walk away from sales all the time, and often it is not your fault. They may have realised they simply cannot afford to make a purchase at that time, or that they really don’t need what you are offering. The challenge for your business is to make the sale to the right customer at the right time for the least amount of money, time and effort. This makes the sale profitable and efficient.
Acquiring customers is never an easy process. It does take a lot of time and energy, and each sale may cost you a lot of money in marketing to secure. Cutting these customer acquisition costs is a priority for a lot of companies. They want easy sales that require the least amount of manpower possible. Internet shopping makes it possible to make the whole process automated to the point of packing and delivering your goods. If you are not currently selling online, you should be working quickly to do so. Even if you are selling a service, using a website to book appointments and provide update messages is essential to improving efficiency in your business. Customers no longer expect the personal service we were used to in the nineties.
Once you have made your sale, you have in your possession valuable customer data. You are of course bound by law to protect this data carefully and to use it only as approved by the customer. Upselling, cross-selling and reselling to a customer you already have is far easier and cheaper than having to acquire another new customer. Your customers may require a little motivation to agree to receive your marketing messages. You can try giveaways and free information to help them with the products they have purchased. Any customer who agrees to this communication could be considered a perfect customer. There are many ways of attracting the perfect customer if you have the time and resources for doing it.
The most important way to ensure your customer continues to be your valued customer is to make every sale perfect for them. Communicate with them about their order, letting them know when it is shipped and how to track the delivery. Send an email a couple of days later asking them if everything was alright. Offer them the chance to leave feedback and respond personally and promptly to it whether it is good or bad. Let your customer know they are valued, and you hope you can do more for them in the future.
Of course, with the prevalence of customer feedback all over the internet, there is nothing stopping a customer from giving you and your products a good bashing. Twitter and FaceBook are just two places where your company may be slated, and you may never find out about it or have a chance to do anything about it. These customers are the kind of customers nobody wants. Bad customers cost you time, and money, chasing them to try and make them feel happier about the service and products they received from you.
Equally, customers who do not pay promptly or take delivery when agreed can damage your business quite severely. Bad customers are the bane of businesses desperately trying to stay afloat in tough times. You can sometimes spot them coming. They are looking for excuses not to shop with you from the start. They ask lots of questions and throw in peculiar and non-relevant scenarios to catch you out. It is sometimes cheaper to invite these customers to shop around for a better deal than to keep pursuing their interest. You have to think about the lifetime value of a customer like that, against the one who is next in the queue with a more positive outlook.
Negative customers spread their negativity to all around them. This includes your business, and you on a personal level. Businesses need to look after the customer who can be most positive about their products and service. These customers are also capable of spreading their positivity to all who read their reviews or talk to them. A good customer inspires your sales team to continue making good sales. It is a ripple effect and will do your company much good. Sadly, we cannot always pick and choose our customers. Our natural positivity can lead us to hanging on in there for even the most hopeless cases.
The trick is to recognise your good customers and reward them for staying loyal to you. Give them the best deals, not the new customers you are trying to acquire. If the best deals only go to those who are not already your customer, your existing customers will go elsewhere. Why should they pay more for being with you for years than a new customer who has no intention of staying with you after the good offer has expired?
Yes, acquiring customers is hard, and there are hundreds of strategies out there for doing it. Keeping a customer and getting repeat orders from them should be cheaper and easier. Focussing on your CRM or Customer Relationship Marketing may well require more creativity and care from you. But it costs you far less per customer than the acquisitional campaigns do. For a start, they already know who you are and want to hear from you!
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